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Written Question
Department for Work and Pensions: Sub Post Offices
Friday 24th May 2024

Asked by: Lord Sikka (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask His Majesty's Government whether the Department of Work and Pensions has transcripts of court judgments and accompanying documents for all cases related to the prosecution of sub-postmasters that they have initiated.

Answered by Viscount Younger of Leckie - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)

It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before Prorogation. Ministers will correspond directly with the Member.


Written Question
State Retirement Pensions
Friday 24th May 2024

Asked by: Lord Sikka (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask His Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Stedman-Scott on 6 December 2021 (HL4310), what is the median state pension for (1) men, and (2) women, for 2024–25.

Answered by Viscount Younger of Leckie - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)

It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before Prorogation. Ministers will correspond directly with the Member.


Written Question
Post Offices: Prosecutions
Friday 24th May 2024

Asked by: Lord Sikka (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask His Majesty's Government, further to the remarks by Lord Offord of Garvel on 13 May (HL Deb col 456), what were the titles of the 62 cases prosecuted by the Department of Work and Pensions against postmasters in England and Wales, and in each what was (1) the date of the case, (2) the location of the court, and (3) the outcome of the case.

Answered by Viscount Younger of Leckie - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)

It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before Prorogation. Ministers will correspond directly with the Member.


Written Question
Department for Work and Pensions: Sub Post Offices
Friday 24th May 2024

Asked by: Lord Sikka (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask His Majesty's Government whether they intend to provide a list of the cases of sub-postmaster prosecutions which have been initiated by the Department of Work and Pensions and subsequently passed to the Crown Prosecution Service; and the outcome of each of those cases.

Answered by Viscount Younger of Leckie - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)

It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before Prorogation. Ministers will correspond directly with the Member.


Written Question
Department for Work and Pensions: Sub Post Offices
Friday 24th May 2024

Asked by: Lord Sikka (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Work and Pensions:

To ask His Majesty's Government when the Department of Work and Pensions began their prosecution of sub-postmasters; how many cases were prosecuted; and what was the outcome of each case.

Answered by Viscount Younger of Leckie - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)

It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before Prorogation. Ministers will correspond directly with the Member.


Written Question
Horizon IT System: Convictions
Friday 24th May 2024

Asked by: Lord Sikka (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Business and Trade:

To ask His Majesty's Government how many of the sub-postmasters’ convictions secured by the Crown Prosecution Service had an input from the Department of Work and Pensions.

Answered by Lord Offord of Garvel - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade)

It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before Prorogation. Ministers will correspond directly with the Member.


Written Question
Water Companies
Friday 24th May 2024

Asked by: Lord Sikka (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

To ask His Majesty's Government whether water companies are required to have full and complete maps of their sewage network infrastructure, and if so how this is enforced.

Answered by Lord Douglas-Miller - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Having a full and detailed map of sewerage assets is a vital part of understanding the network and identifying areas for improvements. Water companies are already required to map their assets under Section 199 of the Water Industry Act 1991. The section, and the requirement to map assets, is enforceable under powers laid out in Section 18 of the Act. Sewerage undertakers are not required to keep records of assets that were laid before 1 September 1989, but only if either:

1) the undertaker does not know of, or have reasonable grounds for suspecting, the existence of the drain, sewer or disposal main;

2) it is not reasonably practicable for the undertaker to discover the course of the drain, sewer or disposal main and it has not done so.

As part of the Environment Act 2021, a new duty has been created for sewerage undertakers in England to produce Drainage and Wastewater Management Plans (DWMPs). DWMPs set out how a sewerage undertaker intends to manage and improve their drainage and wastewater systems over the next 25 years. DWMPs will complement existing requirements to map the sewerage network, to facilitate a detailed understanding of the network and help ensure that drainage and wastewater services are better managed and properly supported, as well as delivering greater efficiencies for customers and supporting investment in nature-based solutions.

In addition, the Storm Overflows Discharge Reduction Plan sets out that the Government expects that water companies have maps of their sewer networks, to understand where properties with separate rainwater pipes are connected to their combined sewer network.


Written Question
Water Companies: Investment
Thursday 23rd May 2024

Asked by: Lord Sikka (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

To ask His Majesty's Government what is their assessment of Ofwat giving water companies a return on capital invested based on an assumed level of equity even if they do not hold that level of assumed equity.

Answered by Lord Douglas-Miller - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

When providing company determinations, Ofwat set a sector wide allowed return, on the basis of the notional capital structure. The notional capital structure provides clear signals about the allocation of risk. It protects customers from bearing much of the risk of companies' actual financing decisions and provides strong incentives on companies to raise finance efficiently. This approach is consistent with other UK sectors that are subject to regulatory price controls and is recommended by the UK Regulators’ Network.

The actual achieved equity return for any company will depend on the company's unique actual capital structure and company performance. Considerations about the actual capital structure are matters for each company and its investors to manage, consistent with the clear allocation of risk and responsibility for a company's actual financing and capital structure.


Written Question
Water Companies: Nationalisation
Thursday 23rd May 2024

Asked by: Lord Sikka (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

To ask His Majesty's Government what plans they have made for the nationalisation of water companies.

Answered by Lord Douglas-Miller - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Water companies are commercial entities. However, as you would expect, the Government prepares for a range of scenarios across its regulated industries – including water – as any government would.

The Defra Secretary of State and Ofwat (with consent of the Secretary of State) have the power to request the court to place a company in Special Administration Regime so that its business can either be rescued or transferred as a going concern to new owners.


Written Question
Horizon IT System: Convictions and Prosecutions
Thursday 23rd May 2024

Asked by: Lord Sikka (Labour - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Business and Trade:

To ask His Majesty's Government whether they commissioned one or more independent legal opinions before deciding not to quash the convictions and prosecutions of sub-postmasters by the Department of Work and Pensions in relation to the Post Office Horizon IT scandal.

Answered by Lord Offord of Garvel - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade)

I can confirm that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) instructed Counsel to advise on its duty of post-conviction disclosure and that advice included a consideration of the nature of its prosecutions.

The advice considered cases that had been brought before the Court of Appeal in which DWP evidence was scrutinised.